‘Justified’ Review: “The Kids Aren’t All Right”
‘Justified’ season 5 takes aim with its second installment of the year in “The Kids Aren't All Right,” as Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) finds himself negotiating with Memphis mobsters to protect young Loretta, while Boyd finds Lee Paxton's wife Mara (Karolina Wydra) to have an agenda of her own.
Last week’s ‘Justified’ premiere “A Murder of Crowes” saw Raylan encountering the Crowe family in the Florida swamps, while Boyd (Walton Goggins) attempted to bargain with the collapsing Detroit mob, and reached a breaking point trying to free Ava from prison., so what will the second episode of ‘Justified’ season 5 bring? Has a new big bad arrived to make life in Harlan worse than ever?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Justified’ season 5, episode 2 “The Kids Aren't All Right!”
Two drug enforcers Jay and Roscoe beat up one of their employees for getting stiffed in a weed deal with teenagers, before “Hot Rod” Dunham arrives and promptly orders the man killed. Meanwhile, Sheriff Mooney sits with Mara and a comatose Lee Paxton in the hospital, pressing Mara to corroborate that Boyd Crowder was the one to assault Paxton. Elsewhere still, Raylan, Tim and Rachel preside over the arrest of a Detroit mob accountant with a large mansion and expensive car, which Raylan comes to borrow.
Boyd laments having to lie to Ava that he has her trial under control, before Mooney, his deputies and Mara arrive to the bar looking to make an arrest. Mara enters, getting up close with Boyd when Mooney presses her to confirm that Boyd assaulted Paxton, though Mara surprisingly denies Boyd to be the man she saw. Elsewhere, Raylan arrives to a county lockup at the urging of an incarcerated Loretta, though Raylan decides to leave her in for selling weed to a cop’s son, rather than bail her out. Brushing off Loretta’s boyfriend Derek on the way out, Raylan also crosses paths with Loretta’s new social worker Allison (Amy Smart), who flirtatiously encourages him to find her again.
Later that day, Raylan pays a visit to Derek at his house, instead finding Jay and Roscoe intimidating the young man. Raylan talks the men into leaving, playfully advising Derek to break up with Loretta on his way out, calling Allison thereafter. Elsewhere, Boyd meets with Mara at the hospital and learns that she’ll leave him alone for the money he’d earlier promised her, though he doesn’t have it on hand. Meanwhile, Wynn Duffy assures Boyd’s drug dealers that their next shipment will soon arrive, despite the menacing inquisitions of one dealer named Cyrus.
Raylan returns to the Marshal’s office, on a whim gaining temporary ownership of the mob accountant Monroe’s palatial estate, and claiming not to have any knowledge why Sammy Tonin would have called Raylan before his death, before Loretta shows up to reveal that her boyfriend Derek has gone missing. That night, Jay and Roscoe force Derek to dig for the money they’d ripped off in their drug deal, though Derek swears it had been their hours earlier. Raylan surprises the men with a shovel to the face, before Derek reveals that it was Loretta who got them mixed up selling weed with Hot Rod Dunham.
Out on the road, Sheriff Mooney pulls over Mara and threatens her to implicate Boyd in Paxton’s beating, lest she make him look foolish again, and wind up prosecuted for the crime herself. Elsewhere, Raylan sets a meeting with Hot Rod Dunham and his enforcers, telling them to stay out of Harlan and let go of their foolish beef with the two teenagers. Dunn seems unimpressed by Raylan’s threat, until Raylan reminds them that growing up with Arlo taught him to be ready for anything, and that he could legally shoot down four of Dunn’s men before they even cleared their holsters.
Afterward, Raylan drops Derek off at a bus stop, while Loretta opts to remain in the car. By the time they reach Loretta’s home, Raylan realizes that she played him into solving her problem with Dunham after she moved the money without Derek’s knowledge, though she insists Raylan would have helped her anyway. Elsewhere, the drug dealer Cyrus informs a local hooker that their shipment will arrive soon, while Dewey Crowe finds his cousin Daryl Jr.making himself at home in Audrey’s.
That night, Art phones a Detroit police captain, suspicious of Sammy Tonin’s whereabouts on the night of Nicky Augustine’s murder, while Raylan shares a glass of wine with Allison from his new estate. In the hospital, Paxton begins to awaken from his coma, while Boyd finds that his dope shipment has been attacked, and robbed.
It seems as if we've reached a rare occasion in which the world outside 'Justified' has more going on than the one within, as the January TCA press tour each year offers a bit of insight into the show's still-fledgling season. This year above any other, we've been privy to the knowledge that season 5 came in a bit downward, ratings-wise, while the chatter of a sixth season finish has officially been confirmed for the gunslinger drama. Any other year, we'd be in discussion of the show's consistent improvement, however quietly under the radar it may fly against your 'Sons of Anarchy's and 'Archer's, but somehow, it's future feels a bit dimmer.
"The Kids Aren't All Right" suffers from a bit less narrative burden than its predecessor, keeping the Crowe family off screen for the majority of the hour and returning to the Harlan setting to bask in a few familiar stories. It certainly couldn't have been long until Loretta popped up again, somewhat older and more embroiled in a life of crime, and the timing couldn't be better with Raylan's absentee parenting issues, and the arrival of another crime family in town. And yet somehow, there seems to be a note of disinterest, some well-worn ground that again puts Raylan on easy street, glammed up in a lavish mansion to boot, even as Art tugs at the thread of his deal with Sammy Tonin.
Welcome as Loretta's return proves, and the parade of character actors that come with it, pairing Steve Harris with real-life brother and 'The Wire' star Wood Harris, the episode once again seems to under-service Raylan with any real development beyond a few moments of reflection, a new girlfriend and some fancy digs. Once again, it's Boyd who delivers the more desperate (and thereby exciting) hour, once again no closer to liberating Ava from prison, challenged by Paxton and Mara once more, and with his dope shipment delayed yet again.
It doesn't help that the aforementioned TCA panel also confirmed we'd focus less on the consistently-underutilized Rachel and Tim this season, however more involved Nick Searcy's Art could become, lending an overall feeling of indifference to the hour. 'Justified' has always been 'Justified,' sharp characters and dialogue before momentum, though "The Kids Aren't All Right" still seems to lack that special something that kept season 4 moving, even without a requisite big bad.
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Justified’ hit the mark with its fifth season's second installment? Are you looking forward to seeing what fresh hell the Crowes raise in Kentucky? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next Tuesday for another all-new ‘Justified’ recap of season 5, episode 3, “Good Intentions” on FX!